Home > Travel > A busy 2012, and looking forward to 2013

A busy 2012, and looking forward to 2013

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

In case you missed the last post, I’ve begun blogging with Scottrick at HackMyTrip, blogging about the points world there. Hack My Trip is a great repository of information, so it’s an honor to add whatever I know to Scottrick’s library of unique posts. Ardent readers of my blog (the few of you awesome people there are) will see some repeat posts at first with only a dash of updated information (such as my updated posts on fifth freedom routes today). Fear not, as I have some new posts in the pipeline, but need to lay a “base of information” down in order to write about more advanced points topics.

I thought I’d make one last post on this blog to round out 2012. It has been a busy year for me travel-wise – it’s the first calendar year in which I flew over 100,000 miles! Although the foursquare and FlightMemory nerd in me is proud that I hit JetSetter badge Level 9, as well as 100 lifetime flights in/out of LAX.

100,585 miles to be exact!

100,585 miles to be exact!

In February, I flew to South America on LAN, taking advantage of the “pre-Avios” British Airways award chart to book New York – Lima (stopover) – Easter Island (stopover) – Santiago for 40,000 British Airways miles one-way in business. I booked Lima-Cuzco roundtrip for 9,000 Avios after the “re”-valuation of the currency, as well as Santiago – Lima one-way in business for 20,000 Avios. I then used 30,000 American Airlines miles to fly Lima – New York (stop) – Los Angeles in LAN Business and American Transcontinental Business.

An early morning arrival at Mataveri International Airport on Isla Pascua, the most remote commercial airport in the world.

It’s tough to top that trip, since I got to visit two new countries (Peru and Chile), hike Machu and Huayna Picchu, fly to the most remote inhabited island in the world to see spectacular moai statues and sunsets, and hang out with a friend in her new Chilean city.

But then, somehow, I topped it with my first trip to India. The ensuing trip report has garnered over 46,000 views on Flyertalk, putting it somewhere in the top 40 all-time on that site. I’ve been contacted by people all over the world asking me about that trip. Hell, it’s what convinced me to start this blog, and has led to meeting a lot of amazing travel junkies from all over.

I parlayed the 184,000 miles I earned in the US Airways Grand Slam last year into a few tickets, the main one being a 120,000-mile redemption from LAX to Hong Kong via Europe. I got a seat on SWISS First Class before they shut down partner award availability, and used a connection in Frankfurt to gain access to the First Class Terminal. I returned via Bangkok, Frankfurt, and London, visiting the Thai First Class Lounge and Spa and hitting a bit of luck when my Bangkok-Frankfurt flight was subbed in a few weeks prior with their 777-300ER Suites product.

After first landing in Hong Kong from my SWISS First flight, I seamlessly connected to a flight to Bangkok on Emirates’ A380 First Class product, which was amazing and the crème de la crème of an otherwise Star Alliance-laden itinerary. A few people have told me that that trip report section convinced them to find a fifth freedom route to fly that product on. Finally, I also inserted a 30,000-mile redemption intra-South Asia on Singapore Airlines, to visit Singapore for 16 hours, get to my eventual destination of India, and open-jaw to Vietnam with my sister to see Ha Long Bay.

EK A380 F shower

I don’t know what it says about me that a major highlight of my year was taking a shower on an A380 at 40,000 feet …. twice.

I had to make a second trip to India about 8 weeks later, and opted for a paid ticket on Singapore Airlines, where I earned Aegean Star Gold status in one go (while having my matched Turkish status to make the trip a bit easier). While it was tough to come down from hopping around the world in business and first to kicking it in coach, Singapore Airlines greatly impressed me with their coach service.

The latter half of the year was mainly domestic trips, which I flew primarily on Delta due to my elite status with them. The last few months have been focused more on earning than burning for me … most of the fun occurred with the famous Vanilla Reloads, and I owe much of my 7-figure mileage balance to these cards. Bluebird really changed the game, and when the cards were pulled from Office Depot, a lot of us overreacted (though thank goodness CVS has saved us). I overreacted as well, though I ended up just making a video (that most people seemed to like when I met them at FTU LAX, phew):

My last journey of the year was New York to LA, via Houston and San Francisco. While it seems out of the way, it was in order to catch the 787 Dreamliner on United! Although it did take some hair pulling when they canceled my original Dreamliner segments, I eventually hit 100,000 miles somewhere above Lake Tahoe ensconced in Dreamliner Seat 4A on the Houston-San Francisco leg.

Those windows are a dream for a window-seat geek like me.

Those windows are a dream for a window-seat geek like me.


So that was my year in miles and points. Not too shabby. Miles and points have been good to me.

As for next year …. to be honest, I actually don’t have any plans set out for travel in 2013, since I’m really busy for most of the year and will probably end up booking trips with short notice to burn through my miles. Some of my goals are to fly Lufthansa First Class proper (and not just visit the First Class Terminal), Cathay Pacific First, and Singapore Airlines A380 Suites (now that you can book them at the saver level with Singapore Airlines miles). I don’t know where exactly I’ll go yet, but those are the products I want to try. I loved my first foray into Southeast Asia this year … perhaps I’ll go there.

On the revenue side, I ended the year with 49,976 MQMs on Delta, so come March 1, I will be a Silver Medallion until at least February 2015 (since I’m rolling over close to 25,000). I should easily hit Gold in the first half of the year with my yet-to-be-booked domestic trips, though. I don’t know what the future with Delta is, but the optimist in me hopes they don’t switch to a revenue program. As long as they don’t switch, my goal is to hit Platinum Medallion with them (for free award changes), then match out to another program if one seems dandy. I was thinking United, but I’ve been having problems with them with the way their system has messed up my award tickets and their lack of quick customer service that Delta has always provided me. American is too up in the air with a possible US Airways merger, plus I don’t know if I could do 100,000 revenue miles to hit Executive Platinum, since I don’t think mid-tier status with American is that great. We’ll see what 2013 brings!

Categories: Travel
  1. Rasamee Moonguaklang
    December 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I read your blog on HackMy Trip and have a question about Fifth Freedom Routes. Do you recommend transferring points into Avios if we wanted to take advantage of the NYC-Vancouver Route that is operated by Cathay Pacific. If not what would you suggest would be the best way to exploit that route? Thanks for any help.

    • Amol
      December 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Avios is great since it’s 12.5K one-way in coach, 25K one-way in business, and 37.5K one-way in First (and there are lots of transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards).

      Otherwise, you could use American Airlines miles at 12.5K/25K/32.5K in First.

      If you live in/near New York, you could book YVR-JFK (stop) JFK-Europe/Middle East/Africa as part of an AAdvantage award (with the free North American gateway stopover).

  2. December 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    That’s an impressive map! My goal for 2013 is to finally make it to South America. I have yet to tally my miles, but I think I may have reached 150K including paid and award travel.

    • Amol
      December 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Nice! South America is an interesting trip from the US – it’s medium-to-long haul but you get minimal jet lag (there wasn’t a time-change on my JFK-LIM flights).

      I didn’t do any mileage runs this year, so all 100K of my miles had a destination. I’ll do some mileage runs/jogs next year, especially if I decide to go for UA Platinum (which I’ll do by flying 50K for DL Platinum first, then challenging with 25K for UA Plat).

  3. Saurabh
    December 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Impressive map Amol! … and great posts on hackmytrip too.

  1. December 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

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